The Top 10 blockchain companies
There are thousands of crypto and blockchain companies, but just a few that make a real difference. Some are seeking to drive massive adoption, others facilitate trading, and others provide indispensable infrastructure and investment. Here is a list of ten crypto outfits that punch above their weight.
Over the past few years, the blockchain space has exploded. Before the crypto and ICO boom of 2017, there were just a handful of blockchain companies or initiatives of any real note. Some of these have since folded – not least MtGox, which suffered an ignominious end in February 2014. The Silk Road, which played such a role in bringing bitcoin to public attention (albeit for the wrong reasons) should probably be included too.
The ones that were left have stood the test of time, including two major bear markets, and have been joined by a host of new cryptocurrency companies. Some of these merely seek to reinvent the wheel (the tsunami of third-rate crypto exchanges springs to mind) while the top blockchain startups bring something truly new and valuable to the table.
The blockchain space today is heating up, with a huge amount of innovation and experimentation, as well as countless copycats and also-rans. But there are relatively few household names – or even what pass for household names in the crypto world. Those leading blockchain companies that have established brand awareness and a solid reputation for the value they bring to the crypto landscape are few and far between.
Here are ten of the top blockchain companies that have changed the world and will doubtless continue to do so in the coming years.
There are several fiat exchanges that have disproportionate influence and impact on the space. Coinbase springs to mind, but Bitstamp has to take the title here.
One of the world’s first blockchain companies and earliest bitcoin exchanges, Bitstamp has been running since 2011. Offering rare fiat-to-crypto services and catering to the European market, it rose to prominence when MtGox collapsed and it was there to pick up the slack.
Bitstamp has taken a conservative approach to running its exchange, and is clearly there for the long haul. It doesn’t go in for gimmicks (preferring quality over quantity and listing only selected alts, for example), instead offering a solid, trustworthy service. When a major hack did occur in January 2015, it covered the losses itself and learned from the episode, reopening and going from strength to strength as the market recovered.
In terms of critical infrastructure, Bitstamp has been up there with the best of them for years now. They’ve been a model for the rest of the crypto and have reaped the rewards.
At the other end of the scale, Binance is the undisputed king of altcoin trading. As blockchain companies go, it doesn’t get any more impressive than this. Almost immediately after it launched in July 2017, Binance managed to hoover up a massive amount of the trading action in the altcoin space and generated a whole lot more through clever marketing and great tech. It was, almost literally, an overnight success story.
Today, Binance is the go-to exchange for millions of traders, turning over billions of dollars in daily trading volumes. What’s more, it has launched its own blockchain (with the hugely successful BNB token), is pioneering a decentralised exchange, and has helped a series of top blockchain startups secure funding through its IEOs.
Bitstamp may have been a slow-burner for the better part of a decade, but Binance is a bright star in the crypto world that shows no sign of going out any time soon.
In terms of infrastructure, it doesn’t get a lot more fundamental than Blockchain.com. The site has been around since August 2011 and has to make it into any list of the top 10 blockchain companies – for any number of reasons.
Firstly, there’s sheer longevity. Any business that can survive the ups and downs of crypto – especially from such a formative era – has earned respect. Then there are the services it provides. As well as a wallet and some extremely useful charts and analytics, there’s the explorer. In short, if you want to know the status of a transaction, how hashrate is growing, or any other basic metrics about the Bitcoin network, then this is likely going to be your first port of call.
Blockchain.com’s importance was recognised by the market at an early point. In October 2014, they received $30.5 million in VC funding – a record at the time, and all the more impressive given it was the middle of a brutal bear market and most other cryptocurrency companies were struggling just to ride out the downturn.
It’s a relative newcomer to the space, but Bakkt can hardly be called one of the top blockchain ‘startups’. It’s backed by the might of ICE, Intercontinental Exchange – the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). And it has a partnership with Starbucks, using the coffee giant’s expertise in electronic payments to help it accelerate mainstream bitcoin adoption.
Bakkt’s major feature right now, though, is custody. The company has worked hard to create a solution where it’s possible to buy and sell bitcoin without having to worry about how to store it securely – something that was previously preventing institutional money from getting into crypto, since there are strict regulatory requirements when dealing with other people’s funds.
Bakkt has to be named as one of the leading blockchain companies because its product enables institutional investors to trade physically-backed bitcoin futures with end-to-end regulatory compliance. That makes it the conduit for a wave of new institutional money.
The Maker Foundation is the organisation currently tasked with development and marketing of the Maker Protocol: the system of smart contracts and oracles that underpins Dai, the most popular decentralised stablecoin and one of the pillars of the DeFi movement.
MakerDAO is a deeply impressive project – and the Foundation deserves to be in a list of top blockchain startups all the more for the fact that it never held an ICO. Instead, the Foundation has made strategic sales of MKR tokens, which enable the decentralised governance of the platform. Dai is pegged to the dollar through a kind of decentralised monetary policy, and the initiative has been so successful that Maker accounts for over 50% of the DeFi economy.
The Maker Foundation has plans to make itself obsolete, progressively decentralising operations until it can step back entirely and leave governance of Dai to the community. Until then, it has proven adept at creating a robust crypto-collateralised and algorithmically-pegged stablecoin, as well as dealing with the crises that the crypto space tends to throw around from time to time.
Maker and the Maker Foundation are a special case, but there’s a lot more going on in the DeFi space. It’s not a blockchain company per se, but Decentralised Finance is a fast-growing subsection of the blockchain economy and deserves a mention in its own right.
DeFi offers a wide range of services and opportunities for the crypto world. There are decentralised exchanges like Oasis and Uniswap, aggregator services, lending protocols like Compound, derivatives and synthetic assets, and more. They’re almost all hosted on Ethereum. And because these are composable protocols built on an open platform, it’s possible to plug them together and build new ones quickly and easily (which is exactly what people are doing).
This is going to be an area that sees huge growth in the coming years, from its relatively humble beginnings today. More than a business or organisation, this will be a thriving global economy of products, services, developers, traders, users, stakeholders and more.
Jack Dorsey is most famous as the founder and CEO of Twitter. But he’s a huge Bitcoin bull and is working hard to integrate bitcoin with regular payments through Square, which he also founded, and the company’s Cash mobile payments app.
Square has evolved from a straightforward payments company to a cryptocurrency company, with a seamless UX that makes it incredibly easy for anyone to buy and sell bitcoin, or transfer it to other users – as well as regular fiat payments. Regular users don’t want to mess around with wallets, private keys or bank transfers to odd exchanges. With Cash, they don’t have to. Everything is at their fingertips.
It’s proving a huge success, with over half of all of Square’s revenues coming from Bitcoin. What’s interesting, though, is that Square’s Bitcoin profits are relatively low, indicating it’s not taking much of a cut from these transactions.
In other words, Square is aimed at massive, frictionless adoption within the retail crowd, and it’s not putting any barriers up against that desire to scale.
Facebook’s Libra project has been beset with problems since it was first announced. The idea was to integrate a new kind of stablecoin with the world’s most popular social network, but the whole undertaking has been mired in controversy and quickly became a regulatory and political mess.
So why does Facebook deserve to be named as one of the top blockchain companies, given that its blockchain hasn’t even launched?
The simple answer is that it has been a catalyst for the blockchain industry. Mark Zuckerberg ruffled plenty of feathers when he implicitly suggested a global tech corporation would compete with the Fed for control over the right to print money. That forced lawmakers to sit up and take interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency more broadly, engaging with different projects and technologies in a way they would never otherwise have done.
The result has been regulatory clarity and a huge boost in awareness for the blockchain world, with decentralised initiatives like Bitcoin coming out well ahead of more centralised ones like Libra.
One of the biggest names in the IT space, IBM is now one of the top blockchain companies too.
IBM rose to prominence building huge mainframes, but managed to pivot successfully with the rise of personal computers. The company has also moved with the times today, and is one of the largest employers in the space, with 1,600 staff working on over 500 blockchain initiatives.
IBM are very much about blockchain, not bitcoin or crypto, seeking to serve businesses with products that span industries as diverse as banking and shipping, and applications from healthcare to supply chain management.
You may not hear much about IBM in the regular crypto press, but make no mistake that they’re one of the biggest blockchain companies in the world, quietly working away to improve trust and transparency across a wide range of enterprise partners.
Finally, Digital Currency Group has to make the list of leading blockchain companies for the huge amount of investment they have made into the industry since 2013.
DCG started out with a modest investment in BitPay, which has since grown into one of the most popular crypto payment processing solutions. In total, they’ve poured around $100 million into crypto and blockchain initiatives, funding some of the most important projects and innovation in the sector (including Coinbase). Without DCG, the blockchain space would be – literally and figuratively – a lot poorer.
There are thousands of blockchain companies, all seeking to capitalise on this new suite of technologies and the opportunities it brings. At the same time, just a handful of these are household names that are making a real and disproportionate difference in the space.
The best blockchain companies combine a strong vision with great technology and a long-term plan to bring crypto and blockchain to mainstream users. Some of these startups have been around for years – almost as long as Bitcoin itself. Others have been around a lot longer but only integrated blockchain and crypto recently. And some came from nowhere to become almost overnight successes.
While some of these companies are still fairly small by conventional standards, the ones who get it right are going to be the big players in the space for decades to come: the crypto equivalents of Google and Facebook.
👀 What are the most influential blockchain companies?
Some of the top crypto and blockchain companies in different sectors include Bitstamp, Binance, Coinbase, Blockchain.com, Bakkt, Maker Foundation, Square and IBM, among many others.
💰 What sectors do the biggest blockchain companies serve?
The largest crypto and blockchain companies are exchanges, such as Coinbase and Binance, enterprise/industry partners such as IBM, and payments/custody initiatives like Square’s Cash and Bakkt.
🕰 What is the oldest blockchain company?
Crypto exchange Bitstamp and wallet/explorer service Blockchain.com are two of the oldest and best-known companies in the blockchain space. They have both been around since August 2011, making them just 19 months younger than Bitcoin itself.